This Thing Called Jazz
With due respect to the exchange between Larry M. and Gabe Meline re Steely Dan selling out (Letters, Aug. 27): First, anyone who goes to print saying that they think Steely Dan "sucks the bag" has balls the size of Mt. Tam, and so, Gabe, I have to respect that. Second, not disavowing that Steely Dan perhaps applied "peer pressure" upon the infamous smooth jazz sell-outs of our era, there was this thing called jazz and it came out of New Orleans and they were playing stuff like "Chase the Tiger." However, incredibly, upon occasion, the leading exemplar of this hot new music could be seen lurking in the balconies, by his own admission, digging Guy Lombardo in concert! This was back in the 1920s, Gabe, and before you know it—only because he wanted to, not because anybody asked him to (no record execs pressured him, 'cause they hadn't even thought of it)—you had Louis Armstrong blowing Lombardo's "Monday Date" and "Stardust" and "Jeepers Creepers." Gabe, there was no going back! The jazz guys found out a long time ago there was no dough in the "Muskrat Ramble." Crossover didn't start with Steely Dan!
In Defense of Hang Ah
After reading the rather negative review of Hang Ah Dim Sum in the Bohemian a few weeks ago (First Bite, July 16), I was confused because a friend of mine who spent many years in Asia had raved to me about Hang Ah. I decided to check it out for myself and went there for lunch on Aug. 22. I ordered the steamed barbecue pork bun, the chive shrimp dumplings, the shrimp dumplings and the pot stickers, all from the dim sum menu. It was the freshest dim sum I've ever eaten, including several places I have frequented in San Francisco. The ingredients are of the highest quality, the noodles handmade and each item came hot and freshly made from the kitchen, bursting with flavor. I worry that a new establishment that deserves to succeed could be adversely affected by mistaken negative reviews. I highly recommend Hang Ah Dim Sum!
What about Third or Fourth Bite?
I understand the concept of "First Bite," but I have to disagree with the content of the review of Hang Ah. I just don't like it when one person, one writer, can take a restaurant apart and not have any accountability. I don't know why food "critics" do that (the Santa Rosa Press Democrat's Jeff Cox comes to mind). If they don't like the place, don't write anything. Why try to destroy their business? From my perspective, I thought the food at Hang Ah was pretty good—and I grew up eating dim sum. All I am saying is, why write a negative article on a new place after one visit. That's not fair. I am very disappointed with the Bohemian for allowing that to happen.
About First Bite
A word about First Bite: Back in the Bad Old Days when we ran 1,400-word restaurant reviews that compelled us to retain someone whose sole job was to eat and which nonetheless regularly resulted in irate restaurateurs standing in my office threatening coronary, lawsuit or both, we would try a spot three times before putting fingertips to keyboard.
And then we hit gratefully upon the First Bite concept of having smart, regular folks just like you go and eat. They are to have exactly whatever they want to have, just like you. They are to be entertaining, kind and thoughtful, just like you. Word count went down, waistlines subsided, restaurateurs left our offices spittle-free. A small bluebird settled on my window sill.
Our publication is far too small to truck needlessly in negativity; we need the space for all the great things we try to highlight. While criticism is not unwelcome, we don't pursue bum experiences just for the glory of writing about them. If a First Bite writer has heard bad things about an establishment, had a bad meal there or otherwise been negatively influenced about a place before being assigned that restaurant for review, we will not do the review. But if a First Bite correspondent goes in good faith and has an "eh" kinda meal, we do write about that. And we welcome rebuttal. We are thrilled that y'all have come to the defense of Hang Ah.
Thanks for taking the time to write in—just like us.